You have decided to launch a major gifts initiative as part of your annual campaign. Critical to this initiative is having a clean database because you know raising money with bad data is extremely difficult.
The goal of your initiative is to increase the number of donors giving $5,000 or more by 200%. You are limiting the solicitations to individuals and excluding corporations, foundations, or other entities. Your organization has separate strategies and goals for each category/type of constituent.
Step one is to secure donors who already qualify as major donors. It is easier to launch an initiative with existing donors than starting from zero. You will use your database to identify those individuals who have a recent gift of $5,000 or more. You, a board member, or perhaps a member of your fundraising committee will want to meet with each previous major donor, secure a current gift, and ask them if there are other people with whom your organization should be speaking. Ask them if they could help by making an introduction.
The second step is to analyze your data. Determine the criteria you wish to use, such as donors who have given $1,000 to $4,999 annually for the past three years. Query this list in your database. Is the number of donors in this list three times the number of donors you will need to reach your goal? The rule of thumb is you need three prospects for every gift you need to secure.
In other words, if you currently have 5 major donors, to reach your goal of an increase of 200%, you will need 10 new major donors. On the list of donors between $1,000 and $4,999, you will need to have 30 prospects to solicit. If you are close to having 30 prospects, you have a strong possibility of meeting your goal.
Part of fundraising is a numbers game. You must have enough donor prospects to solicit in order to reach your goal.
There are no guarantees. But imagine, you and your board have thirty face-to-face conversations with donors with a goal of asking each for $5,000 or more. The worse thing that happens is that you have thirty quality conversations with donors and raise money. Keep in mind that most of the 30 prospects are already donors to your organization. These are not cold calls.
The third step is to continue to build the pool of prospective major donors. With consistent effort your board members and current and newly acquired major donors will be adding more names to the prospect pool. Prior to soliciting these prospects consider inviting them to a VIP event at a major donor’s home. This event will give them an opportunity to learn about your organization and meet other donors who support your mission.
Looking at your list of major donor prospects, what do you know about them? Do any of your key volunteers know them? Who could best solicit them? Some of this information will be stored in your donor management software. As you are developing this process, continue to add new, relevant information to your database. You will frequently add both new constituents and new information about your constituents. This ongoing process will make your donor management database fertile ground for future major gifts fundraising.